Koch bus garge.JPG

Pictured is the Koch Bus Service facility. A bus driver shortage is hitting hard nationwide, including here in Waconia. (File photo)

The lack of available school bus drivers has been well-documented in local and national news reports, and “We’re hiring” signs are plastered to the sides of buses and on billboards in almost every school district.

The issue is becoming even more pronounced with afterschool events.

Athletic directors and transportation providers around the state have reported challenges in getting students to and from games and meets, and Waconia is no exception.

“We are short on drivers as well and have had to move departure times on several activities,” said Brian Koch, owner and driver with Koch Bus Service in Waconia.

Tiered bus schedules have helped with getting students to and from school, and Koch says the local bus company has been able to cover all routes utilizing office staff, mechanics and substitute drivers.

“Our entire staff has stepped up and is helping above and beyond, and it is greatly appreciated,” he said.

When it comes to afterschool transportation, remedies often call for even more creative options, even ride sharing. It may be sharing a bus with another team or even another school, rounding up vans and van drivers, or leaning on parents to pick up the slack and their car keys.

As reported in the Minneapolis StarTribune, the Blaine school district had a volleyball team scheduled to play at a north metro school that was also the destination of Anoka’s tennis team. With only one bus available, the two teams shared the ride.

Other districts have reported training staff on utility vans or have asked families for help transporting students.

“In Waconia, we have had times when two teams from different sports have ridden the same bus to different locations,” Koch said. “Coaches, players, athletic directors, and parents have been very understanding and accommodating, for which we are grateful.”

“We also remain grateful for the partnership we have with Koch Bus Company and for everyone at ISD 110 who is doing everything they can to get our students where they need to be,” said School Superintendent Pat Devine.

Meanwhile, Koch Bus is hiring for mornings and afternoons.

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